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McDonald Hearing Services - Grand Rapids, MI

Man with cardiac condition also suffering from hearing loss.

Loss of hearing is a normal part of the aging process, unfortunately. Roughly 38 million people in the US suffer from some form of hearing loss, but a lot of people choose to simply neglect it because it’s a normal part of aging. However, beyond a person’s ability to hear, their overall health can be negatively affected if they neglect their hearing loss.

Why do many people decide to simply live with hearing loss? According to an AARP study, more than one-third of seniors consider hearing loss to be a minor issue that can be dealt with easily enough, while more than half of the participants cited cost as a concern. When you consider the conditions and significant side effects caused by neglecting hearing loss, however, the costs can go up dramatically. Here are the most common negative effects of ignoring hearing loss.

Exhaustion

Most people will not immediately connect the dots from fatigue to hearing loss. They are commonly in denial and will attribute their fatigue on things like getting older or a side-effect of medication. In actuality, as your brain tries to compensate for sound it can’t hear, you’re left feeling exhausted. Imagine you are taking a test like the SAT where your brain is totally focused on processing the task at hand. Once you’re done, you most likely feel depleted. When you struggle to hear, the same thing happens: when having conversations, your brain is trying to fill in the blanks – which is often made even harder when there is a lot of background sound – and as you attempt to process the conversation, you deplete valuable energy. This type of persistent exhaustion can impact your health by leaving you too run down to keep yourself healthy, passing up on things like cooking healthy meals or going to the gym.

Mental Decline

Johns Hopkins University conducted a study that linked hearing loss to , accelerated brain tissue loss, and dementia. While these links are correlations instead of causations, it’s believed by researchers the more the blanks need to be filled in by the brain, the more the cognitive resources needed and the less the resources available for other things like memory and comprehension. The decrease of brain function is accelerated and there is a loss of grey matter with the additional draw on cognitive capacity that comes with growing older. The process of cognitive decline can be delayed and senior citizens can stay mentally fit by the regular exchange of ideas through conversation. The fact that a link was discovered between loss of hearing and a loss of cognitive functions is promising for future research since the causes of these conditions can be identified and treatment options can be developed when cognitive and hearing specialist work together.

Issues With Your Mental Health

The National Council on the Aging conducted a study of 2,300 seniors who suffered some form of hearing loss and discovered that paranoia, anxiety, and depression negatively affected the emotional well being more often than those who don’t have hearing loss. Since trouble communicating with others in family and social situations is normal for those with hearing loss, the connection between mental health issues and hearing loss seems logical. This can lead to feelings of seclusion, which can eventually result in depression. Because of these feelings of exclusion and isolation, anxiety and even paranoia can be the consequence, specifically if left untreated. Hearing aids have been proven to aid in the recovery from depression, though anyone suffering from depression, anxiety, or paranoia should seek advice from with a mental health professional.

Heart Disease

All the parts of our bodies are one interconnected machine – an apparently unconnected part can be impacted negatively if a different part quits functioning as it should. This is the case with our ears and hearts. As an example, when blood doesn’t flow easily from the heart to the inner ear, hearing loss will happen. Another disease that can impact the inner ear’s nerve ending, and is also connected to heart disease is diabetes which causes messages from the ear to the brain to be scrambled. In order to ascertain whether hearing loss is caused by heart disease or diabetes, if you have a family history of those illnesses consult both a hearing expert and a cardiac specialist because neglecting the symptoms can lead to severe or possibly even fatal repercussions.

If you have hearing loss or are having any of the negative effects outlined above, please contact us so we can help you live a healthier life. Make your appointment for a hearing test.